The overexploitation of resources over
the years due to conflict has contributed to environmental degradation
and human insecurity, directly and indirectly. For example, both the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Liberia have attracted international
attention as areas where greed for diamonds not only fuelled armed conflict
but also environmental degradation. Environmental management institutions
in Africa have generally been weakened as a result of armed conflict,
and so were enforcement regimes; forests and other resources suffered
(UNEP 2002). The issue of post-conflict assessment in Africa has recently
attracted attention with UNEP initially focusing on Liberia.
More post-conflict assessments are expected in other African countries
in which conflict was a major issue
Conflicts have increased the numbers of refugees and internally-displaced
people. In 2003, the overall number of displaced people in Africa was
15 million (Wilkinson 2003), 3 343 700 of them refugees living in countries
other than their own (UNHCR 2003) (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Africa’s uprooted
people: The toll of conflict
|Source: Adapted from UNHCR 2003
has the highest rate of urbanization in the world. The urban
population is projected to reach 42.7 per cent by 2010.
Despite this, the majority of the people in Africa still
live in rural areas – about 498.4 million in 2000
compared to 295.2 million in urban areas.
number of people living in absolute poverty in sub-Saharan
Africa is projected to rise from 315 million to 404 million
over the next 15 years, making the continent the world’s
is the source of about a third of the world’s biodiversity.
In 2003, Africa had more than 1 200 national parks, wildlife
reserves, and other protected areas, representing an area
of more than two million km2, nine per cent of the region’s
total land area or more than 21 times the size of Malawi.
HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa is seriously affecting conservation
success in the region. For example, it is reducing staff
in protected areas.
180 million people in Africa – pastoralists, farmers
and other land users – live on fragile drylands where
growing numbers compete for water and land.
Africa, more than 20 per cent of the population’s
protein comes from freshwater fisheries.
| Sources: UN-Habitat 2003,
IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2003b, World Bank 2003a
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) acknowledges that the
unexpected arrival of large numbers of refugees, as well as lengthy
stays in asylum countries, can have a significant environmental impact,
including exploitation of protected areas.
UNHCR launched activities to generate awareness among displaced
people of the value of water in 2003, the International Year of Freshwater.
These were linked to planting trees, cleaning up camps and raising
awareness among refugees in Africa about the need to protect and improve
the physical environment (UN 2003). The Refugee and Returnee Environmental
Education Programme, which was started in 1995 in refugee camps in
Kenya, has since been expanded to Ethiopia, Djibouti, the Sudan, Tanzania